VIDEO: NI universities staff are going on strike - here's why

The University and College Union have revealed the dates they will be on strike.

The Northern Ireland universities - Ulster University and Queen's University - join industrial action being taken by 61 UK universities on Thursday 22 February and continuing over a four week period beginning with a five-day walkout either side of a weekend.

There will then be four days of strikes from Monday 5 – Thursday 8 March and 12 – 15 March.

The strike dates are:

Week one – Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February

Week two – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February

Queen's university

Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March

Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15

The strike is the biggest to ever hit the higher education sector with 88% of the Union’s membership voting in favour.

The dispute centres on Universities UK’s proposals to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme replacing it with a defined contribution scheme based upon stock market investment performance.

UCU say gambling with the pension scheme in this way will leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

Despite UUK’s hardline position, cracks have already begun to show on the employers’ side with a number of universities including Loughborough, Kent, Glasgow, Sheffield, Lancaster, Warwick and Essex criticising UUK and calling for more talks.

UCU Northern Ireland Official, Katharine Clarke, said “It is disappointing that QUB and Ulster University have refused to exercise their influence to persuade UUK to compromise and find a negotiated solution when other universities have done exactly that.

"Clearly the managements of our universities are unconcerned about their staff facing poverty in retirement after a lifetime of dedicated service.

"This is totally unacceptable and has left our members with no alternative but to strike to defend the pensions they have paid into over the course of their employment.”

The Students Union at QUB and UU have both voted to support their striking lecturers and will be attending the UCU’s strike rally scheduled for 11am on 22nd Feb at QUB.

More from News